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Celebrating: Viv Anderson

As Black History Month continues, we tell the story of England’s first black footballer

8 October 2020

On Wednesday 29 November 1978, the landscape of English football on an international level changed forever as a young, fresh-faced 22-year-old, Viv Anderson took to the Wembley stage to line up for what would be his first England cap.

But, more importantly, Anderson would become the first black footballer to pull on the famous Three Lions shirt; remarkably, it had taken 106 years for a black player to sport the national attire for the first time. 

That evening’s game against Czechoslovakia would be England’s 526th competitive fixture, and the first of a new era. 

The full-back played the full 90 minutes as England went onto win 1-0 after a second-half strike from Steve Coppell. However, the scoreline was not the talking point.  

There have been 94 BME players to play for the national team in total, with Ashley Cole being the most capped player following 107 appearances for the Three Lions. 

Anderson himself would go on to win 30 caps for England in a decorated career that saw him represent Nottingham Forest, Arsenal, Manchester United and Sheffield Wednesday, as well as claim two league titles, two league cups and two European Cups along the way.

His is a story which is rightly celebrated when it comes to English football.

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